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Cricket West Indies: Skipper hoping landmark victory blows a Gayle

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New West Indian captain Chris Gayle hailed a "thrilling" win against South Africa as a career highlight and said the challenge for his young team was to continue to improve.

"It's really thrilling to beat South Africa in four days," he said after a 128-run triumph in the first Test at St George's Park on Saturday.

Asked whether he had been involved in a better West Indian win, he said: "It's the best one so far because we have a lot of young players, inexperienced guys. It's really pleasing to see the way they operate under pressure."

It was the first away Test win for the West Indies, other than against minnows Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, since they beat England by an innings and 93 runs in Birmingham in June 2000.

Set 389 to win, South Africa succumbed to consistent pressure from the West Indian fast bowlers and were bowled out for 260.

After years of being pilloried as world cricket's most prominent under-performers, Gayle said leading in a series was a new challenge for the West Indies.

He said the team would celebrate on Saturday night before starting to prepare for the second Test of the three-match series, starting in Cape Town on Wednesday.

"The challenge is how we cope with it. We will have to stick to basics and play some good cricket," said Gayle.

South African captain Graeme Smith said his team needed to bounce back, as they had done in home series against India and Pakistan last season when on both occasions they clinched the series by winning the final match.

"We let ourselves down on day one when we allowed them to bat the way they did and then we didn't bat well enough in our first innings," said Smith.

"We have got to rebound. We've done it before. We know we're better individually and as a team than what we showed in the past four days."

Smith defended a decision to rest several of the key South African players ahead of the Test because of a gruelling schedule over the next year.

"Three days of rain didn't help our preparations but we have no excuses," he said.

South Africa were never in contention on Saturday after slumping to 45 for four, although Jacques Kallis (85) and AB de Villiers (60) provided resistance in a fifth wicket stand of 112, while Andre Nel (34) and Dale Steyn (33 not out) delayed the end with a hard-hitting ninth wicket partnership of 67.

South Africa's troubles started early when Daren Powell dismissed Herschelle Gibbs for his second duck of the match. Fellow fast bowler Fidel Edwards built up impressive pace to claim the wickets of Hashim Amla and Smith as South Africa slumped to 20 for three.

Kallis and Ashwell Prince survived until lunch but Prince fell to Jerome Taylor four balls after the interval, edging a low catch to Gayle at first slip.

Kallis was in outstanding form as he reached his half-century off 70 balls with seven fours. He was unlucky to be given out after a 126-ball innings when an attempted hook against Edwards deflected off his shoulder to wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin.

De Villiers was eighth man out when he drove Taylor to mid-on.

The match was effectively over but Nel and Steyn hammered 67 runs off 60 balls before Nel was caught behind off Darren Sammy, with last man Makhaya Ntini driving man of the match Samuels to mid-off in the next over for Powell to hold a catch.

When the final wicket fell, the West Indians gathered with arms linked and danced in the middle of the field.
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